Saturday, January 17, 2015

Christmas Socks. Worried Grandpa. Cold Feet.

I love silly wonderful Christmas Socks.



They remind me I have so much to be grateful for in life.  I am loved.  I have a home.  I have food in the pantry and in the fridge.  And, my feet are warm.

My feet are toasty warm in my cozy socks.

This might seem a bit random, but really, this moment of gratitude reaches back into one of my most precious childhood memories, spreads through middle school, and stretches all the way into this moment in time.

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As a little girl, I absolutely adored my Grandpa.  He was one of those old men who had been rough around the edges as a father (or so I'm told) and whose heart started melting when his first granddaughter came along (me!).




From Left to Right: Grandpa (W.O. Caster), my cousin (Katie Caster), and me (Suzanne).  We are making my Grandpa's infamous ginger snaps after a morning swim in the pool. (Statesboro, GA)

I loved this man so much.  When my Dad and I would visit on the weekends, I would try to make sure that I woke up as early in the morning as I possibly could.  Because, if I got up early enough, I would catch my Grandpa in the swimming pool.  He only swam in the mornings, and I loved spending time with him while he swam his laps.  I would slip my swimsuit, which was usually damp & cold from the day before, onto my sleepy little body, and run out to spend time in the cool morning water with my Grandpa.

Later in the day, I would scamper through my grandparents' tile-floor house barefoot every season of the year.  And, invariably, mid-skip, right in front of my grandpa, I would sneeze.

AAACCCHOOO! (because I sneeze like my Daddy)

And he would say, with a slight grump in his voice, "Go put on some socks!"  I, being the precociously happy child I was then, would giggle and say, "Grandpa, it was just a tickle in my nose!"  I would then continue my skip, skittering off on whatever mission I was on in that particular moment without a second thought.  My dad would tell me that Grandpa would just blink a little, and go back to whatever he was working on, not quite sure what to do with me.

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Now, when Hubby and I moved to Chicago in 2008, I knew that winter would be cold.  But I really had no idea.  My Dad tried to warn me; he spent his childhood in Minneapolis. . . . 

I. Had. No. Idea.

SO. COLD.


We scored a beautiful two bedroom apartment with hardwood floors.  What we didn't know until winter set in was that our apartment had basically no insulation.


           

My desk sat in front of a window.  I loved my window.  For the three years we lived there, I watched the tree outside growing and changing with the seasons.  I saw the snow flurries in winter and listened to the birds sing in the spring.

But I also FROZE in that freaking icebox.  The baseboard heater didn't work.  The hardwood floors felt like ice.  And, to top it all off, my adorable window leaked in cold air like a sad bicycle tire.

And then, the sneezing started.  This wasn't any sneezing I had experienced before.  This was not some "tickle in nose" silly sneeze from south Georgia.  This was uncontrollable, multi-sneeze attacks that just rocked my entire body.

In the midst of one of these horrid sneezing fits, my grandpa's voice rang in my ears.  "GO PUT ON SOME SOCKS!"  I was certain that the wonderful man I had lost many years before made sure that his granddaughter would be prepared for this moment.  All those "grumpy" moments of fussing at me and my giggling at him paid off.

I ran to the other room, pulled out the fluffiest pair of socks I owned and put them on.

RELIEF!

The sneezing stopped.  My body suddenly felt warmer.  This was my first step to learning how to survive Chicago winters.

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Bragging Rights: I have one of the most amazing stepmothers in the entire world.  She's so wonderful I call her, "My Wanda."  I really hate the word "stepmom," and I only use it so that the rest of world will understand how she is related to the rest of my life.


My Dad and My Wanda dancing at my wedding.  Aren't they adorably happy?

My Wanda believes in the power of family traditions, new and old.  And let me tell you, My Wanda loves Christmas.

I spent years tirelessly decorating for Christmas with this crazy woman and my sweet daddy.  We'd decorate more Christmas trees than any one house has any right to have.  Daddy would spend a week prepping the most amazing Christmas Eve dinner your tastebuds can imagine.  And then, with a twinkle in her, My Wanda would gather us all around the tree to open our one Christmas Eve present: Pajamas!  

We would promptly scamper off to change into our PJs and then eat our fabulous Christmas Eve feast in our new pajamas!

Well, this is not My Wanda's only fantastically silly family tradition.  She also puts the silliest, fluffiest socks in everyone's Christmas Stocking!

So, that infamous day in Chicago when I skittered off to put on socks, the pair I grabbed were from my Christmas stocking the year before.  My Wanda ensuring that my tootsies would be warm when I finally listened to my Grandpa and put on some socks . . . because I sneezed.

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